NPR logo A Gold Bug's Moment In The Political Sun


A Gold Bug's Moment In The Political Sun

"Sex, mathematics, music, gold — all these things are universal." - Jim Grant David Kestenbaum/NPR hide caption

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David Kestenbaum/NPR

Jim Grant, noted gold bug and fine prose stylist, is having a moment in the political sun. Ron Paul has said he'd nominate Grant as Fed chairman. Now, Newt Gingrich says he'd appoint Grant to a "Commission on Gold" that would consider whether the U.S. should return to the gold standard.

Grant has been arguing for years that returning to the gold standard — tying the value of the dollar to the value of gold — would be preferable to the current system, in which the Federal Reserve controls the value of the dollar. In an interview with us last year, Grant said:

Ben Bernanke testifies one day, he thinks he wants to impart a little zest into our shopping by injecting more green, paper dollars into the world. He thinks that more of them will be more better. Why? Because it will cause prices to go up just enough. Not too much, but just enough. Do you believe that? It's risible. Laughable.

But, as Grant himself told us, Grant's point of view is wildly unpopular among economists left, right and center.

"The argument I'm making is in fact the wingnut argument," Grant said. "Every self-respecting tenured faculty member in economics this country, almost without exception, would laugh it out of court."

A recent survey by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business bears this out.

The school asked 23 big name economists from institutions around the country, representing a broad swath of the political spectrum, whether average Americans would benefit from a return to the gold standard.

Economists, famous for disagreeing about everything, were unanimous in this instance: By a vote of 23-0, the economists opposed a return to the gold standard.

For more on why economists don't like the gold standard, see our story, "Why We Left The Gold Standard."